“Julia, oblivious to it all, ordered oeufs mayonnaise and a beer… She ate hers euphorically, spreading the mayonnaise on the eggs, the baguette, anything that could hold it and lifting her head now and then to look around, smiling to the kids, who smiled sarcastically back. She was in France. She was at home.”
– Amanda Hesser on Julia Child
I am a big fan of euphoric eating. And I feel Julia to the max here. Oeufs durs mayonnaise is no big thing to the chefs of Parisian cafes, but if you’re just a person, it’s everything. Two perfect eggs, halved, with loads of tangy, rich mayo. I love to slather that mayo all over the place, and dip chips in it too.
You can’t eat jubilantly all the time, but one fried egg can bring a jubilant dimension to a lot of otherwise restrained lunches. The thing I love most about visiting American diners (or maybe second, after beautiful, hot, weak filter coffee) is ordering my eggs sunny side up – dramatic, ridiculous, delightful.
The subtly crisp edges of the white, the rich pop of that sunny yolk – it’s exciting, right? Thankfully, our cooking lives in 2016 are very much about putting a fried egg on it. Here are a few things you should put an egg on: Nigel Slater’s invincible ratatouille, Deb’s zucchini ribbons with almond pesto (she has the good grace to call it a salad, does not pretend it’s pasta), David Lebovitz’s lentil salad with goats cheese and walnuts – worth having in the fridge as an all-week work-in-progress.
My best everyday eggs are the dippy kind. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it ’til I die: season the soldiers, not the eggs. A film of pepper atop an egg is no good to you. If you want a soldier with salty chutzpah, whip up some anchovy onion butter, I dare ya.
Oeufs mayo, though, take it to the next level. Mayonnaise is one of those things we overthink – if we didn’t, we’d have a batch of it on the go all the time. It gets the best out of roast chicken, elevates sandwiches, and changes your life. It’s just egg, oil, mustard, acid – you have to believe it isn’t going to split, trickle that oil as slowly as you can, and whisk like you mean it. I love Jamie Oliver’s recipe because it doesn’t make a fuss; it has the difficulty rating “not too tricky”. The ‘mixed oils’ debate is real, though – a bit of extra virgin olive and a lot of groundnut or sunflower will do the job.
If it curdles, don’t panic.
Admittedly, I don’t regularly pipe mayonnaise onto halved eggs for myself; I save it for Paris. But once the chimney in this new house has been reinforced and we are finally housewarming-ready, I’ve got a lot to consider: devilled eggs, asparagus-stuffed eggs, miso-sriracha eggs.
I’m gunna leave you now with something nuts: soufflé suissesse. The cheesy, creamy, billowy puddle of a soufflé that swamps its gratin dish and was designed to be eaten in the sassiest, priciest surrounds. Egg magic.